RE: virus: Faith, Logic and Purpose

Robin Faichney (
Tue, 18 Nov 1997 18:22:27 -0000

> From: David McFadzean[]
> Right. So realizing that I have an incomplete
> understanding (and always will), I think it is
> a good idea to try it out, tell other people
> about, let them criticize it, try to answer the
> reasonable criticisms, and thereby evolve the
> understanding. What's wrong with that?
Nothing. What I said was, that despite the fact
that you seem generally more objectivist than me,
nevertheless I think I'm more scientifically
oriented and you're more morally oriented,
because I focus more on understanding how
things are, and you more on how they should be.

> >Susan Blackmore is into Buddhism, and has
> >talked about its anti-memetic-viral properties.
> >I guess she, like me, would see either
> >Buddhism, or something like it, as a better
> >way of controlling memes than is rationality.
> I didn't realize that Buddhism and rationality
> were incompatible.
I didn't say they were. I said Buddhism is
better suited to meme control.

> >Dawkins I don't know about, but why don't
> >you write to him and see what he thinks
> >about the CoV?
> I think this quote is quite relevant:
> ... faith is one of the world's great evils...
I know what he thinks about faith. As I've said
at least twice recently in this thread, and once
directly about the attitudes of these "big names",
it's your methods I'm arguing with. I did say
"what he thinks about the CoV" not "what he
thinks about faith".

> >The point that I'm trying to make is that if you
> >really believe that rationality is the answer,
> >then a memetic perspective is redundant.
> I claim that rationality is the answer if you are looking
> for a good way to make decisions. It might be good for
> something else, but that is not (currently) my claim.
> I don't think rationality is The Answer.
OK, it's good to hear that. And I agree that
rationality is a good way to make many kinds
of decisions. My point here is that it is not a
good way to control memes, at least as
compared with Buddhism.

> >[I don't] believe that the concept of "choosing your
> >memes" is compatible with a thoroughly
> >memetic view, because on that account all
> >that's happening is competition between
> >memes, while "you" are utterly irrelevant!
> >Which, as Susan Blackmore says, is where
> >memetics and Buddhism come together.
> I agree, but I was hoping you could see through the
> clumsy terminology to why a memetic paradigm is
> beneficial.
I don't understand your response. I'd have thought
it obvious that I think the memetic paradigm is
useful. But perhaps you can say exactly what you
had in mind when you wrote that -- what, precisely,
does the memetic paradigm benefit?

> >Because memetics is about irrationality. Every
> >time you attempt to push peoples' buttons, you
> >are exploiting their irrationality, and therefore
> >compromising your own ideals. You should
> If memetics is instead about unrationality, then I would
> be compromising nothing.
Don't understand this either. What does
"unrationality" mean?

> >either give up on button pushing, or admit
> >that irrationality sometimes has advantages.
> Even if memetics was about irrationality, I think there are
> situations where it is rational/reasonable to act in such a
> way that could be validly interpreted as irrational/unreasonable
> from a different perspective. Same action, different contexts.
OK! That I can agree with. In fact, it looks like
you've come around to my point of view. Which
is what it's all about, isn't it? What's right from
one POV is wrong from another. But David, I
never thought you could be such a relativist!

Now, do you admit you've changed your mind,
or do you try to maintain that's something you
never have had and never will have to do? :-)